Smoke shop owner attacked with hammer during robbery, police say

The co-owner of a Riverside smoke shop was critically injured after she was attacked with a hammer during a robbery Tuesday, her family and police said.

The victim’s nephew told KTLA that the woman -- identified as Chaula Patadia, 52 -- was working alone at Smoke Shop Plus about 12:30 p.m. when the suspect entered the store and attacked her.


“She’s in the hospital right now in critical condition,” Rahul Lavingia said.

Riverside police said Patadia didn’t try to resist but the suspect struck anyway, hitting her several times in the head and knocking her unconscious.


Minutes after the suspect took off, a UPS man dropping off a package saw the victim and called 911, police said.

“Robberies aren’t anything new to this area, but this is in uncharacteristically violent attack,” said Riverside Police Officer Bryan Galbreath. “The suspect used unnecessary force.”

Surveillance video showed the attack, and “based on his appearance, we think he’s a transient, and we’re confident someone can point him out,” Galbreath said.

The suspect is described as a 35- to 40-year-old man about 6 feet tall and weighing 280 pounds. Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Riverside police.



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